I believe in experiences; in adventures. Change. Eventually all things change. The small rural town I was raised in is no longer quite so small. Where before no Wal-Mart would have dared to stand two new super centers have arisen. Change isn’t terrible, even if it means the re-configuring of childhood memories. It can be hard, but that’s alright. With change comes new things to experience. And experience is the greatest joy I’ve gotten out of my seventeen years.
When I first rode in an airplane I was less than a month old. Almost every other summer since then I’ve frequented the ports and craft of the Minneapolis/Seattle airways with my family to visit relatives in Washington. Then, when I was thirteen I suddenly realized just how terrifying this whole business of flying really was. I was thousands of miles above the Earth, blasting through the atmosphere in a machine that probably weighed more than my house. I started hyperventilating, near tears. I was going to die. I just knew it. At that moment there was nothing I wanted more than to get off and never return. …Survival was unexpected, but kept me sane through the other flights we took that year.
Still; that one jolting take-off changed my perception of heights dramatically.
I will never forget the terror of being fifty feet off the ground, supported by nothing more than ancient wood and metal as I cowered in the corner of the Watch Tower at Breezy point. My friend and her father continued up the five more flights to the top without me. I still remember her leaning fearlessly over to look down at me. “Come on, scaredy-cat!” I couldn’t move; my hands refused to leave the railing, I never made it to the top. Hell, I don’t think I even stood all the way up until the second level; my knees were shaking so badly.
Sometimes I wonder if the view up at the top would have been any more spectacular than my own. I hope not. I never want my fear to keep me from experiencing something amazing. And it’s for that reason I’m able to force myself on every terrifying ride I encounter (with the persistent help of my friends, I assure you). It’s funny, but I’m sure I would die if I didn’t go through things that might kill me.
You see: life, to me, is nothing if I refuse to experience the things that might change me. Because halfway through the loops and spine-snapping turns of the monstrous ride I simply refused to get on, I’ll find myself wrapped in pure ecstasy; in absolute, crazy elation. Call it adrenaline; call it insanity, if it makes you feel better. It’s that thing which makes a little part of me want to go back and do it again. It’s what I cherish most, what I truly believe in; not because of the way it makes me feel, but because of whom it’s making me become.
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